Two years ago I became a mom in the United States. Although everything is new for a new mom, being a foreigner often makes me feel like I’m missing stuff everybody else knows, like I frantically described in my previous Oh, boy! This feeling might just be a self-defense mechanism to justify the truth: I have no idea what I’m doing. Here, there and everywhere. The positive side of this feeling is that it inspires a lot of learning opportunities that I wouldn’t deliberately seek had I stayed in Mexico.
I don’t know how different things would be regarding motherhood if I were in Mexico, but I know I’m glad that I have had tons of resources right here. Like most pregnant women, I started my –-slightly compulsive-– research on baby topics, birthing, parenting and survival, really. I attended the traditional classes at the hospital and a couple of others less mainstream that actually made a lot of sense to me since I wanted an all-natural birth, or like my brother liked to call it, the “Before Christ way”.
I’ve heard Tarahumara women go to some hidden spot away from their house where they stand over a nest of grass that is prepared to receive the child, holding on to the branch of a tree. To me, that sounds very logical and heroic. In my mind, there is something very romantic about that scene of having a baby in private and surrounded by nature. Now, I’m from Mexico City. Women there go to the hospital with their nice new robes, have epidurals and document their stay by taking cute pictures of their babies. They possibly wear make-up, or they just look really pretty in those photos, like my mom did. Anyway, when my turn came, I had the best of both worlds. It was more amazing than I could have ever hoped for.
Although I’m sure there are many, I can’t speak about the network of childbirth professionals or educational resources available in Mexico because I just never experienced them there, but living in the U.S. gave me the opportunity to easily find out about people that shared my views. We were able to have an OB/GYN and a midwife, to hire a doula, to learn about hypnobirthing, to avoid Pitocin and to have fake scented candles in my room during labor. Turned out that the string quartet playing in the background wasn’t all that necessary, but the point I’m trying to make is that we had the freedom to plan a lot of this event of unpredictable nature.
Becoming a mom is a very empowering experience by itself. But in my case, the opportunity to have access to birth and parenting education, to be involved in every detail and to have all my decisions respected at all times, was invaluable. Even as a clueless newcomer and with my husband’s help, we managed to put together a great team of experts. And man, did they deliver!